In order to preserve one of Lebanon’s most-visited historical attractions, a helping hand is needed. Baalbeck’s Jupiter Temple has been undergoing a lengthy restoration project that is now close to completion.
A team of experts from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation has been restoring and consolidating the temple’s iconic six columns since 2017. The work is part of the Cultural Heritage and Urban Development (CHUD) program, which has sought to protect historical sites in Tyre, Tripoli, Baalbeck, Byblos and Saida since 1983.
At Jupiter Temple, non-invasive restoration techniques, such as the use of two laser cleaning machines imported from Italy, are employed to remove grime and previous harmful restoration practices.
“We are solving problems that were mainly made by metallic elements used during restoration done in the 1930s, which are causing corrosion and damaging the stone,” CHUD senior program director Marisa Calia said.
All the cleaning work has been done by Italian experts trained by Rome’s High Institute for Conservation and Restoration and working in a careful way with small tools and brushes to avoid removing the original patina and color of the monument.
The program also involves training local experts in the latest techniques and technologies, and making the temple more accessible to visitors. A new visitor center, entrance, pathways with information panels and an exhibition space are being constructed.
The CHUD program is also restoring and rehabilitating other sites in Lebanon, such as the Baalbeck Serail and the Ottoman-era Esendemir Mill in Tripoli.
In Tyre, CHUD will be targeting Al Mina and Al Bass, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which feature the remains of Roman and Byzantine cities. The Saida Land Castle is also on the list, as well as the 18th century caravanserai Khan al Eshli.
If you’re planning to go to Baalbeck, make sure to check out our mini guide to see what you can get up to in the region.
Text: Maghie Ghali